China select board sets tax rate at 12.26 mils, up from 12.05 mils

by Mary Grow

At their Aug. 28 meeting, China select board members, in their capacity as assessors, set the town’s 2023-24 tax rate: 12.26 mils, or $12.26 for each $1,000 of valuation.

The current rate is 12.05 mils, or $12.05 per $1,000, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said.

Kelly Grotton, assistant to the assessor’s agent, said residents who were approved in 2022 for the seniors’ property tax stabilization program should not be affected by the increase; their 2023-24 bill should be the same as their 2022-23 bill.

The Maine legislature has repealed the tax stabilization program. District #62 State Representative Katrina Smith recently summarized legislative actions expanding other programs that assist taxpayers aged 65 and over (see the Aug. 17 issue of The Town Line, p. 8).

Hapgood said she hopes town office staff will have tax bills in the mail by Friday, Sept. 8. She and Grotton both said office employees have been extremely busy in the last few weeks.

By town meeting vote, the first half payment of local taxes is due at the town office by Friday, Sept. 29.

Select board members also approved the warrant for Nov. 7 local voting. There will be only elections on the town ballot. Board members and planning board co-chairman Toni Wall talked about three possible ordinances, including the long-discussed solar ordinance, and decided nothing can be ready for voters’ action that soon.

Instead, select board members agreed by consensus to try to schedule a zoom meeting with planning board members, Hapgood and town attorney Amanda Meader to talk about at least the solar ordinance.

Wall said China’s planning board ordinance, last amended in June 2008, and the 2017 ordinance banning retail marijuana establishments need attention, and probably other ordinances. Select board member Brent Chesley recommended considering a medical marijuana ordinance.

The next town vote will be in June 2024, in conjunction with the annual town business meeting and the state-wide primary elections. Hapgood said any ordinances to be presented to voters in June 2024 should be ready for legal review by Jan. 1, 2024.

On Nov. 7, China voters will elect two select board members, three planning board members and three budget committee members. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the former classroom behind the town office on Lakeview Drive.

Hapgood said at least one person is circulating nomination papers for every board/committee position except budget committee District 3 (southeastern China). Friday, Sept. 8, is the deadline for returning signed papers to have one’s name on the ballot.

Select board members unanimously appointed Elaine Mather to the District 3 planning board position, to finish Walter Bennett’s term. Hapgood said Mather is circulating nomination papers to be elected to the seat after her interim term ends Nov. 7.

Board members postponed action on several other items on their Aug. 28 agenda.

Hapgood reported that the public works crew can probably find time to do groundwork for the planned new storage vault attached to the south side of the town office building. Discussion of how to proceed from there was postponed until after select board member Blane Casey confers with building committee chairman Sheldon Goodine.

Whether China’s senior fuel fund, paid for with ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money, can legally continue for another year without a new approval from town voters remains undecided. Hapgood has discussed the question with a Maine Municipal Association attorney, but has no definitive answer yet.

Proposals to amend China’s town logo, a project initiated by summer intern Bailee Mallett, whose term has ended, can go on the back burner for now, select board members agreed.

The next regular China select board meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Sept. 11.


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